Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Weds Check In . . . August 1

Crazy world out there. Bombs. Shootings. Road rage.Sometimes I think writing is a way to create a world that's separate from all that, though my story has darkness as well. What history doesn't? I'm buried in edits, slogging my way through, but encouraged by first readers' reactions, positive enough that I'm back on the fence, agent or self-pub all over again!

Still July went by in a flash. My little tiny baby grandchild (now 8 weeks old) has grown by a third, coos and gurgles, and nearly holds her head up most of the time, and I can change her diapers before she realizes what's happening! She's a tranquil soul, still blue eyes, and I realize that I named one of my characters for her before she was even thought of.

Today is also our anniversary. 37 years! That passed by in a flash as well. We're going to the Milk Bottle Cafe, a landmark here in Spokane that was built in 1935. According to Wikipedia, this representational architecture was "designed to build better men and women by making dairy products attractive to boys and girls." Ah, the innocence! We're going because their milkshakes are unforgettable and  they fry up the best bar-b-que hamburgers in town.

So, goal setting for the week by WEDS 8/5:
1. Complete edits and add one major scene to Section 2 Years of Stone.
2. Revise two last stories for The Mermaid's Quilt and Other Tales.
3. Do two CRITS for NOVELS-L on the Internet Writers Workshop and participate in ROW80.

Writing thought for the day:  What does a writer do when the scene doesn't unfold, the characters don't talk to each other, the conflict lies flat on the page like a pancake? (Sorry, still thinking about that Milk Bottle Cafe).

If I've worked hard enough, I jump on the internet to look for a FACT that relates to this scene. Maybe an image of a street or an old house. In my current work, old newspapers online are a gold mine of trivia for local controversies, street names (a sense of place), shops that are going out of business, governesses that need to be hired, confirmations of ship sailings. Sometimes I'll search for biographies of key historical people and read through where they were born, how they grew up, when they married. Often the wives (mid 19th Century) died in childbirth. Sometimes the husbands remarried immediately. Sometimes they never married again. I found a lovely image wandering through a museum. Somehow a prison door had been preserved and now was on display. Prisoners had carved graffiti into the wooden doors of the prison -- the outline of a ship, a year, the names of their sweethearts. Some lines were cut deeply, as if the prisoner had a knife; other lines were faint. Paintings, portraits, photographs of old buildings, city histories -- and an unexpected wealth of PDF reports, doctoral dissertations, studies, all help prime the pump. TIP: No matter how much you download or save on your trusty computer, please, please remember to back up your stuff!

And, sadly, that old standby, interlibrary loan, doesn't always come through with books that no one else (apparently) in the world wants to read. So never pass a used book store without checking out what they might have in your area! My most recent find, a lovely collection of aboriginal folktales, The First Sunrise: Australian Aboriginal Myths by Charles P. Mountford (paintings by Ainslie Roberts). One of these will prompt me to add something to a character, a memory from childhood, a recurring dream, maybe a night terror.

May your writing go well.


  1. Oh, I love online resources. I spend a lot of time at places like Gutenberg and and various govt archives. The visual archives can be amazing for the writer as well. (Try Shorpy for a great photo archive of how things looked, etc.)

    As for a stuck scene -- when a scene lies flat, I try to first consider if the Muse is trying to tell me something. Does this scene even belong here? Should I skip it?

    I try to hook on to the purpose of the scene, but if that purpose is boring, I bring out the big guns: my four questions: What is the worst thing that could happen here? What's the most unexpected thing that could happen here? What's the coolest thing that could happen here? What's the most satisfying thing that could happen here?

  2. I often wonder how I wrote before the Internet! I know I must have, but it has made finding exactly what I need when I need so simple. I still love my library and there are times I walk into that room to check out an old reference. Books are wonderful, just not as fast, and today everything is about being FAST!

  3. First, happy anniversary! Thirty seven years that's great.

    I've read so many times that each scene must have conflict and that can be really hard to do. If your scene is falling flat, maybe ask yourself what the goal is in that particular part of your story. If you can't pinpoint a goal then see if you can get rid of the scene because without a goal, you can't have conflict.

  4. It's so nice to meet you, Beth. Happy IWSG. I have a board on Pin It for writing inspiration. I've accumulated photos that have helped to bring my new WIP to life. I know! What did we do before the internet!

  5. Hello, I'm also here from the insecure writers group... you sound very, very focused and disciplined. Best of luck to you! Shannon

  6. I love the picture - although it's hard to see how that would attract anyone, much less kids. Wishing you the best! :-)

  7. Anonymous8:23 PM

    I have a small asus tablet with a detachable keyboard, which I adore, unless I'm writing in turbulence or I forget to save my work. Now about those pancakes.